(TMU) – With negotiations over a new stimulus package continuing to fail in the U.S. Congress, lawmakers left Washington, D.C. to enjoy a 3-day weekend despite the dire uncertainty being felt by tens of millions of unemployed Americans nervous about unpaid bills and rent.
Democrats and Republicans continue to remain at each other’s throats over the shape of any new stimulus package that could keep the pandemic-stricken economy from utterly collapsing, with Democrats backing the $3 trillion HEROES Act and Republicans backing a far more austere $1 trillion HEALS Act.
While both sides have signaled that they are willing to reach a compromise to pass a bill, conservatives and liberals are mired in numerous impasses over issues ranging from unemployment benefits to aid for states and financial assistance to public schools.
With little solution in sight, the Republican-controlled Senate led by Mitch McConnell adjourned for a three-day weekend.
President Donald Trump also arrived in New Jersey on Thursday to enjoy a three-day vacation at his Bedminster golf course, a move he described as a “peaceful protest” against the media during a private party at the exclusive club on Friday.
While Americans are suffering from the pandemic and told to stay home. Both the Senate and House of Representatives when on recess !!!!
If that doesn't tell you what the members of Congress think of you I don't know what to tell you .
Caring is doing YOUR job for Americans !!!!
— Anthony Grady (@ohioleafsfan) August 7, 2020
In the meantime, jobless Americans are being left in the lurch as unemployment continues to hover above 10 percent, a number far higher than during the peak of the 2008 financial crisis. Last week an additional 1.18 million people filed for unemployment benefits, marking the 19th week in a row that jobless claims exceeded 1 million, according to The Guardian.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the record for weekly claims was 695,000 in October 1982 during the early 1980s recession – a severe economic downturn that may seem mild in comparison to the current crisis.
And as members of Congress enjoys its 3-day holiday, Americans are continuing to tighten their belt in the absence of the extra $600 they had been receiving on top of their normal unemployment benefits until the payments expired at the end of July.
The end of a federal moratorium on evictions also poses the danger that up to 40 million Americans may be spending their final months with a roof over their heads.
Economists are warning that without any replacement for the lost benefits, homelessness, poverty, and previously unseen levels of hunger could engulf the United States – with harsh consequences for the economy in general, causing a vicious circle that will further impoverish Americans.
"Food insecurity for U.S. households…reached its highest reported level since the Census Bureau started tracking the data in May with almost 30 million Americans reporting that they’d not had enough to eat at some point in the seven days through July 21"https://t.co/K3DJ30wj65
— Peter Joseph (@ZeitgeistFilm) August 2, 2020
“The $600 benefit is essential for millions of people to get food, to pay rent, to care for their children, to afford basic necessities. If it is cut off, it will mean a sharp decline in their living standards, an increase in poverty, and completely unnecessary suffering,” wrote Heidi Shierholz, the senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
In the meantime, JP Morgan and The University of Chicago wrote in a July study that the loss of $600 payments for jobless Americans will result in a 4.2 percent drop in consumption, far exceeding the 2.9 percent fall experienced during the span of the Great Recession.
🚨 new predictions of effects of alternative UI benefit supplements 🚨
The UI supplements have expired. Congress is considering a range of options.
What will happen to
2) *UI replacement rates*
— Peter Ganong (@p_ganong) July 31, 2020
While political and financial elites are universally convinced of the need to avoid further economic calamities, on Friday partisan divisions continued to stymie any possibility of an agreement, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dismissing House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s offer to trim the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion stimulus proposal by a trillion dollars as a “non-starter.”
Republicans continue to demand that employers be granted legal protections against health claims by workers that are related to the coronavirus. They also are demanding that local governments receive far less aid under their proposed stimulus package.
On Friday evening, President Donald Trump blasted Democratic leadership for the stalemate while claiming that he would offer his own unilateral solution through executive order.
“Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer continue to insist on radical left-wing policies that have nothing to do with the China virus,” Trump said. “If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need.”
Trump also said that he would defer payroll taxes and student loan interest, extend the eviction moratorium, and offer jobless benefits through the rest of the year.
However, analysts have dismissed the president’s statements as electioneering and posturing, given that issues regarding federal spending remain in the hands of Congress.
According to White House officials, Trump could sign the order as soon as Saturday, reports NBC.
In the meantime, however, the Senate’s long weekend is not going over well with Americans, who are taking to social media to blast lawmakers.
You sent the Senate home for a vacation.
We are dying, starving, homeless and suffering. You and the @SenateGOP just don't care.
— Lady Farmer 👒😷 (@djmincey11) August 7, 2020
Again, if you let the due date pass and your agreement expire and you end up losing something, in any other job scenario, YOU WOULD BE FIRED! How are they allowed to get their recess when they didn't finish their job on time? How are they still employed?
— Sam Avnet (@ThisIsSamsLife) August 7, 2020
— SEANNY SMILES (@SeannyFK) August 6, 2020
Why did you send the Senate home? Your work isn’t done.
— Barbara Peace (@bpeace67) August 7, 2020
Flood their offices with calls, voicemail, faxes and emails. Remind them that they work for you!! Tell them to do their jobs. KY, ME, and SC let your representative know that you have the power to remove them. #VoteThemAllOut2020 #CorruptGOP #ConsequencesForTrump #COVID19
— N3NAMALA69 (@N3NAMALA69) August 7, 2020
Why does Congress get so many vacations? Even when they’re in Washington DC conducting business, both chambers are nearly empty unless there is a vote.
— Peter Roberts (@ManFromMarina) August 6, 2020
Hello fellow citizens…. we've been abandoned by a bunch of millionaires.
Regardless of your political affiliation, perhaps it's time to hold them accountable….
— Antifa HR Manager (@Luthier122) August 6, 2020
Why do they keep leaving early when we pay them to do a job? Not eat fancy lunches or take long weekends? People are starving and becoming homeless
— 🌊Mushroamer 🌊#Resist #VoteBlueNoMatterWho😷 (@Aimushroamer) August 6, 2020
The House and Senate appear to have walked out on the unemployed after failing to reach agreement on the 2nd stimulus. What would happen if drs and nurses walked off their jobs because the federal government wouldn’t give them what they needed to do their work?
— audubon (@audubon3514) August 7, 2020